May 25, 1984
So I was wrong about Walter Mondale. He did come to San Luis Obispo.
Mondale came to town at the request of the anti-Nuclear group Mothers for Peace, the only candidate of three invited to show up.
Quoting the story by staff writer Alan Mittelstaedt:
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is a “menace” that should never be allowed to open, former Vice President Walter Mondale said today in San Luis Obispo.…“It’s time for us to vow that the lives of the people of this area are far more precious than the dollars of Pacific Gas and Electric,” said Mondale.”
Mondale spoke to a crowd of 3,000 in the plaza including several hundred construction workers in hardhats who had been invited to sign off at Diablo and were bussed from the plant to attend the rally.Though he was interrupted at times, he delivered a 13-minute speech.
Mondale and Reagan’s political careers had opposite arcs. Walter Mondale was elected vice-president on the ticket with Jimmy Carter in 1976, the same year Ronald Reagan lost a challenge to incumbent Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination. Reagan’s tepid support of Ford may have cost Ford a close election.
Eight years later Mondale was on the steps of Mission San Luis Obispo, close to being nominated by the Democrats to run against incumbent Ronald Reagan.
Just as Gerald Ford had the shadows of Nixon, Mondale had the legacy of Carter to try to overcome.
Carter had the 1979 Oil Crisis, Iran hostages and on the job training as a Washington outsider.
Randall Balmer argues in his book God in the White House that in 1980 Carter lost the evangelical vote he energized during the Bicentennial election.
When Carter did not block the IRS from stripping tax-exempt status from places that discriminated by race, like Bob Jones University, they saw him as weak and ineffective.
Oh yea, and did I mention Mondale was running against a guy who’s nickname was The Great Communicator.
Mondale’s was Fritz.
Please tell me no one this year is running as a Washington outsider.
What’s that you say?
They both are?
Would you hire a brain surgeon who was an operating room outsider?
But I digress.
Back in the 1980′s the paper published in the afternoon Monday through Friday. On Saturday they slapped an ugly Trib logo on and published in the morning. This is one reason why the coverage overlapped two days. The first day was event driven and the second day was reactions to the visit.
A really cool website called Living Room Candidate documents the evolution of television political ads beginning with the Eisenhower/Stevenson campaign of 1952.
In case you missed it, Mondale lost and the plant opened.
Photos by Wayne Nicholls and Doug Parker.